Summary: Welcome to Krypton, "millions of miles from earth" (so not that terribly far, astronomically speaking) and "like a green star twinkling in the sky". It possesses an atmosphere remarkably like earth, but much larger. Life here developed similar to earth's, but is just plain better. Kryptonians are super-strong, super-smart, and can leap over vast distances like gang-busters. Spoilers: the planet is also about to blow up. Whoops!
Enter Jor-L, apparently the only scientist on the planet who felt the need to investigate all those ominous earthquakes and volcanic the planet's been having lately, y'know, all over. Not one to break bad news gently, Jor bluntly spells it out to Kyrpton's world government: the sun is drawing Krypton out of its orbit and the planet will soon, quote, explode like a bubble. This is based on calculations which were made by himself, one of the most respected scientists on the planet, and would be presumably easy to verify by another party (if not by the sun which, also presumably, would be slowly appearing larger in the sky). Concerned, the Kryptonians unanimously approve of Jor-L's plan to exodus and resettle on a planet not unlike Krypton, and- oh wait, no. They unanimously vote against doing anything at all, and laugh him right out of the building. Apparently super-politicians are super-idiots on Krypton! Or, heh, were.
Returning home, Jor-L feverishly works on a plan at least get himself and his family to safety via rocket-ship. Proving he is indeed an intelligent man, he builds a small but functional model that he will fire to verify that his plan is sound. As he explains to his wife, Lara (Lara-L?), Earth is just like Krypton, only populated by beings comparably feeble to Kryptonians. Lara thinks it sounds like a terrible place, but expresses that she only cares about her son surviving, if it came down to that. The Planet Krypton itself decides to call that bet almost immediately by beginning to break apart. The L's work frantically to stuff their yet-to-be-named son into the model rocket and shoot him off towards the planet Earth as the planet literally falls in on itself around them. The rocket is fired in the nick of time, which is of some small comfort to Jor-L and Lara as they and the entire population of Krypton perish from the sun. SUPER-perish.
- Jor-L, Lara-L, and their (non-speaking) son Kal-L
- Krypton's governing body
- One of the most consistent parts of Superman's origins is the planet Krypton's destruction, and hubris its people experienced by ignoring Jor-L, the same man universally regarded as its smartest scientist. It is because of this is why Kal-L (Superman's real name) is one of the precious few survivors of an otherwise magnificently powerful species. That, or he's the super-one-eyed man in the kingdom of the super-blind, and really really good with building model rockets. Regardless, notice the 'L' here; later, would it double in length to 'El'.
- It's interesting to note that the transcription spends an entire episode on Krypton, which was only given a mention in the first panel of the original comic (which had baby Superman already hurling towards Earth). I believe this may be one of the first instances of Krypton's fate being explored in the mythology of the series. If so, chalk up another mark on the board, Martha.
- Also strange is the fact that the very first episode of the show doesn't feature the titular character in a speaking role. Bud Collyer, Superman's voice actor, did have a part in this episode - he's one of the voices in the background when Jor-L addresses the governing body.
Highlights of the episode:
Rozan: Jor-L speaks
Jor-L: Members of the council...I have completed my solar calculations and much as I dread uttering these words, I have come to the conclusion that Krypton is doomed.
He certainly didn't pull any punches. Good thing Kryptonians think he's the best scientist like, ever. Just like we listen to our scientists, right?
Rozan: You have been working too hard Jor-L. You need a rest. Believe me, we have the upmost respect for knowledge and integrity, but this is carrying it too far, planets as large as Krypton do not explode Jor-L.
[rumbling sound is heard]
Jeez, what does it take to convince these guys, is the planet going to have to EXPLODE fir-... oh.
Rozan: When it comes Jor-L…it shall find all of us ready. If Krypton is to die, we shall die with it. The parting would be much too severe!
I didn't know which was funnier, a politician completely ignoring the chance of others who might want to escape the apocalypse, or the complete lack of an angry mob outside the government building, demanding something be done about all the freaking earthquakes.
Jor-L: Yes, I know I know, Lara its been hard on all of us, and particularly hard on you. How is the boy?
Lara: Sleeping Jor-L. That quake this afternoon frightened him, but he's all right now. Can't you come in and look at him? You've scarcely see him these days, what with working all hours on the space ship model.
Jor-L: It can't be helped dear, I'm racing against time. Right now I'm anxious to know whether the model will behave as I hope.
Fun little observation: Jor-L's rocket is not only a working scaled down model of the actual escape pod, but an untested one to boot. What a lucky boy Kal-L is. Incidentally, he IS called by name at the very end by his parents - sadly, he is too young to remember it, and when he lands on Earth some years later, he possesses intelligence and strength, but truly no identity (other than really, really stretched out jammies).
In the next episode, Superman touches down and does mortal combat with a runaway trolley! And just who IS this mysterious Jimmy? And why is he being taken to the fair? And where the hell did he pull the name "Clark Kent" out of his rear? All this and MORE... Sunday at 7pm!
Happy 70th, Radio Superman!